I’ve been neglecting you. I realize now how long it’s been since I’ve written you as I peruse my last entry and notice I was yammering on about eggplant. I’m currently looking out at my eggplant patch as I type and it is as white as Santa’s beard and quite frozen over. I apologize. How can I let the season sneak by so?
There’s nothing in my yard now to carry on about, only snow. I love this weather, if you didn’t know. I’m one of the few enthusiastic winter-lovers you love to hate. I’m glad now to let my garden sleep and to work with the limited foods of winter. I’ve already pushed the subject of seasonal limitation on you before, how I think mother nature is quite clever at offering us just enough of what we need no matter the season. Even in Minnesota we can eat like royalty this time of year.
In winter we stock up on hearty greens like kale and chard and root vegetables and fill our wide fruit bowl with satsumas and blood oranges and late-season pears. There’s more meat stacked up and frozen than usual and that’s because we’re cold and hungry and meat (and fish and fowl) add an important depth to soups, stews and braises, the real dishes of winter. I’m glad to be here now although my left hand is biting cold and my legs feel slightly sore from the weather.
I’m trying to be glad all around. This has to do with my new mindfulness project, how I do squish my nose to that word, mindfulness. I’ve been reading my Thich Nhat Hanh devotedly and sitting down to mediate in the early hours each morning. It’s having an impact on what I say, how hurried I am (which is always, which I’m slowing down), how my mind organizes all the thoughts and concerns. Meditation has been like hiring a long-needed secretary for the mind.
This has everything to do with food and with mindful eating. Eating foods, especially together at a round (or rectangular, or square, for that matter) table that are seasonal and sustainable can bring us instant connection to the world around us. Today my daughter and I had cheese sandwiches for lunch made with Wisconsin jack cheese on a local wild rice bread and pears from Barnard Farm in Michigan. And that’s just lunch. That said, like daily sitting meditation, it’s good to know that there can be a place (the table) where we can get back to ourselves and relate to something, to our community, to nature. Don’t we need this sort of thing more than ever? What an easy and ideal way to do it, through real food.
Here’s a recipe to give thanks for, but not just on Thanksgiving:
RED WINE CRANBERRY SAUCE
2/3 cup sugar; 3/4 cup dry red wine; 1/2 cinnamon stick; 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries; 1 tablespoon slivered tangerine, orange, or clementine zest
In a saucepan over moderate heat, combine the sugar, red wine, and cinnamon stick; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the wine has reduced slightly. Add the cranberries and zest. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are soft and the sauce has thickened. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
The sauce will keep for 2 months in a covered container in the refrigerator.